FROM SGPC TO radicals, Sikh groups in Punjab and elsewhere were jumping around in near ecstasy when a turbaned decorated lieutenant-colonel with the Canadian Armed Forces was made the Defence Minister of Canada.
Always calling himself and described in the media as Harjit Sajjan but invariably inserting a "Singh" in his name when dealing with community constituents and his Sikh fan club in India, Sajjan was probably not made the Defence Minister of a key NATO country because of his headgear, but because he was one person who was not expected to demur when it came to raining missiles upon, say, Syria.
And he didn't.
He was a hero to a minority community desperate to look for heroes, and who better than the Defence Minister of a major American country? After all, he represented the paradise, tickets to which are being sold from every street corner in Punjab. These ticket booths are called IELTS coaching centres.
But why am I harking back to this Liberal MP for Vancouver South after all these months? Because Gina Haspel has now taken over the CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America, and feminist groups in the US and elsewhere in the world are not going ga-ga. In fact, they are disappointed.
Who you hail for what reason and to what purpose defines you.
The feminist groups are not hailing Gina Haspel.
They are not hailing Suzanne Scott either who is now set to take over as the first female chief executive of Fox News.
The Sikh groups were celebrating Sajjan's appointment.
Who you hail for what reason and to what purpose defines you. The feminist groups are not hailing Gina Haspel. The Sikh groups were celebrating Sajjan's appointment.
"There is nothing feminist about a woman who oversaw a site where detainees were tortured, someone who refuses to say whether she believes torture is immoral," says Jessica Valenti, author of several books on feminism, including her latest memoir, 'Sex Object.'
Women groups cannot celebrate a woman in a news organization who once came up with a "miniskirt rule” for women appearing on-air.
Gina Haspel at her confirmation hearing
When a member of a community rises to power, it needs to be understood why he was chosen, and what objective has he bound himself to.
Neither is feminism about blind support for any woman who rises to power. Nor should the great Sikh community look for pride in a top NATO structural cog who cannot and has not ever expressed an opinion about the bogey of weapons of mass destruction.
Co-opting the entire community without an understanding of the objectives involved amounts to becoming a foolish traitor to the cause. Feminists have not been fooled into celebrating women who proactively curtail women’s rights.
Signing up to serve a president who proudly wears notorious sexism on the sleeve will not be hailed as service to humanity.
Harjit Sajjan was a hero to Sikhs because he represented the paradise, tickets to which are being sold from every street corner in Punjab. These ticket booths are called IELTS coaching centres.
There was no dearth of conservatives who said women not supporting Ivanka Trump’s business because of her father’s policies were not feminists.
There was no dearth of ecstatic Khalsas who said not celebrating Sajjan's rise as Defence Minister reflected a narrow viewpoint.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, has slammed those claiming to be on the side of women but not celebrating Gina Haspel’s nomination.
Don't get confused. It isn't complicated.
Feminism is a movement for social, economic and political justice for women. And it is not for everyone.
Sajjan with his wife, Dr. Kuljit Kaur
Sajjan, and his two children.
Sikhism is a revolutionary religion whose principles leave no room for compromise as they bind every adherent to launch himself in a full frontal fight for social, economic and political justice for everyone. Sarbat Da Bhala. (Being a feminist is an integral part, by the way, of being a Sikh, a point often missed.) And it is not for everyone.
Gina Haspel and Suzanne Scott have made it. They made it because generations of women fought, and fought very hard. That cause was called feminism. So Haspel and Scott benefitted from feminism. That does not make them cause celebre. Feminism enjoins upon us not to celebrate them.
"You cannot be a feminist and support an immigration policy of taking children away from undocumented immigrant mothers," Jessica Valenti writes in the New York Times. "You cannot be a feminist and go along with the White House’s newly announced domestic gag rule, a mandate that would withhold funding from any health care center that helps patients find abortion services."
Feminism is a movement for social, economic and political justice for women. And it is not for everyone. Sikhism is a revolutionary religion whose principles leave no room for compromise on Sarbat Da Bhala. And it is not for everyone.
Similarly, you cannot be a cause celebre if your views and opinions are congruent with the approach that condones going after regimes on specious notions of WMDs, and if you do not flinch from giving a green light to bombing Syrian civilian inhabited areas.
Feminism never meant cheer for any woman for anything she ever does. The principles of Sikhism do not enjoin you to cheer a community member for taking up jobs that make you a part of the killer machine.
Sikhism was never about seven metres of cloth wrapped around your head. The turban stands for principles much, much higher - Sarbat Da Bhala for example. It enjoins you to gurus who were ਨਿਮਾਣਿਆਂ ਦੇ ਮਾਣ, ਨਿਤਾਣਿਆਂ ਦੇ ਤਾਣ, ਨਿਓਟਿਆਂ ਦੀ ਓਟ. You cannot choose to celebrate just because it is one of your own ilk. You cannot flinch from what you seek every day — ਸਰਬੱਤ ਦੇ ਕਾਰਜ ਰਾਸ ਕਰਨੇ।
Sometimes, a principled stand is not to honour someone just because he sports a certain headgear. Or is a woman.
NATO and CIA have a lot to say to each other. So have Sajjan and Haspel. And we should have a lot to say to ourselves, and to others of our ilk about whether we did the right thing by hailing a Sajjan, or did something wrong by not hailing Haspel. Just remember that we are a people bestowed with ਬਿਬੇਕ ਦਾਨ, ਵਿਸਾਹ ਦਾਨ, ਭਰੋਸਾ ਦਾਨ. We come with a guarantee: ਜਹਾਂ ਜਹਾਂ ਖਾਲਸਾ ਜੀ ਸਾਹਿਬ, ਤਹਾਂ ਤਹਾਂ ਰਛਿਆ ਰਿਆਇਤ.
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